Black Child Health Working Group

The Black Child Health Working Group (BCHWG) was co-founded in summer 2020 by Teresa Herrera and Blean Girma, MPH from the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health (EMPH) at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in response to racial inequities highlighted concurrently by the COVID-19 pandemic and the murder of George Floyd. 

Mount Sinai serves East Harlem, one of New York City’s poorest neighborhoods, where environmental injustices—from air pollution to substandard housing to community violence and toxic stress—are rooted in systemic racism. As EMPH researchers and clinicians, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to center the health of Black children in the community which we serve. The mission of the BCHWG is to increase departmental and institutional awareness of the myriad ways that systemic racism impacts Black children’s health and risk of disease later in life. By creating a safe space to deepen this learning within EMPH, we are better prepared to engage with and improve the health of Black and other marginalized communities through research and patient care.

The BCHWG is engaged in:

  • Monthly teach-ins sessions to build baseline knowledge of factors that influence Black child health inequities
  • Development of an action plan to guide the department and institution in anti-racist efforts
  • Development of a consultation service to provide input on materials and programs that center the health of Black communities 

Past BCHWG teach-in topics led by EMPH faculty include: 

  • Socio-ecological models of racism
  • Cultural competence vs. humility
  • Anti-blackness and childhood chemical exposure
  • Mass incarceration of Black youth in the USA
  • Intersectionality of blackness and LGBTQ+ and impacts on health
  • Influence of anti-blackness and colonialism on childhood asthma
  • Exploration of racist biases in environmental health literature 
  • Seneca Village walking tour
  • Institutional reparations
  • Climate and Black child health
  • Community-driven care solutions to environmental racism
  • Achievement gaps and disparities in education and school health
  • Disparities in research funding

For more information, contact Blean Girma, MPH, or Perry Sheffield, MD, MPH.